Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
- Proverbs 4:23
Today I am not going to talk to you not about reports from the Bible of those historic figures like Abraham or Joseph. We are going to talk about a person alive today that Bible says the Lord plans to use to do mighty things. (Jeremiah 29:11) . Jesus has said that this person will live as one with Him as he is with the Father and the glory given to Jesus will be given to this person.(John 17:21-23). This person has been given the ability to use God's power. (Acts 1:8) This person has been given a spirit of love and discipline. This person has been given much wisdom. (Luke 21:15) (James 1:5) The Apostle Peter said that (2 Peter 1:2) this person will know great amounts of peace. Everything that has to do with life and godliness has been given to this one person.(2 Peter 1:3) God has chosen this person by His own glory and excellence and this person has been a part of his plan since before the earth was created. (Ephesians 1:4) (James 1:5) Wouldn't it be great to have all of this? I would trade a few silly bands for all that! Well kids, that person is you.
How have you been doing with all that has been given to you? If you say you are saved, you must be seeing some of this in your lives, wisdom, peace, power, everything to do with life and godliness, being close to God like Jesus is. How is it going for you? Do you even know?
When I speak of the 'heart' I am not talking about the muscle inside you that pumps blood through your body. In Hebrew they often talked of the liver or belly! They felt that those were the deepest parts of our body. When you dig a hole deep enough in the right spot, you will find water. If that water is from a spring, it will rise up some. The water will; what we call - 'well up'. The 'heart' the bible talks of is your thoughts and feelings. God looks at our heart like a well. We can act nice when inside we are not thinking nice things at all. The water looks ok, but digging deeper we find that the water is "bitter" We can fake it. I can behave in class but when I hit recess, I can stir up trouble and division or blessings and peace. My well can produce bad water or good water. So God looks deep into this well that is our inner thoughts and feelings. What we feel is what we will do. What is in our heart will eventually come out or be seen in some type of action. That is why the Bible says in Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Out of our heart comes our actions.
Each of you has been through some tough times. It may be divorced parents, it may be relationships with your parents or friends that have gone wrong, it may be death in your family, it may be studying a large load of school work trying to achieve good grades, it may be sickness or sorrow or anger beyond control. It may be some secret thing that someone has done to you or made you do It may be feeling left out, different and alone.
You might ask yourself, why do bad things happen to me? Well, there is an answer. Job says that "Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7) Do sparks go up? Every time. So it is that we will have trouble in our lives. Jesus says that we will have trouble in this world.(John 16:33) Why though? Why would God allow me to lose a mommy or daddy or why would he allow my parents to divorce? Why would he allow a child to die? Why would God do that? Does he not love me? Does he not love others? He is not answering my prayer!
There was a time when there was no death or divorce, no sickness, simply put, no trouble. It was in the Garden where Adam and Eve lived. It was good. (Gen 1:31) God loved them enough to give them what we could call free will. They could decide to follow God's simple rule to not eat a certain fruit in the garden or they could decide to disobey God and eat it. (Gen 2:16-17) Now God made Adam first and made Adam responsible for what happened in the Garden and with his wife Eve. (1 Timothy 2:11-14) Boys, as you grow up, God has placed a lot of responsibility on you. No matter what happened in the Garden, Adam was the one that would be to blame if something went wrong. The only thing that could go wrong was eating the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Well one day Satan, the angel that had been kicked out of heaven for going against God, he entered the body of a snake and talked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Adam ate some too. From that moment on their hearts and bodies changed. Everything in the universe changed. Trouble had come and would exist on earth as long as the earth was around. Death had come to. So we had a chance to be trouble free. But Adam blew it. Because we all come from Adam, because sin is not limited to the person that did it but does affect others, we all have to deal with sin. Not one of us is sin free (Romans 3:23) God gave us a perfect world to live in, Adam chose to disobey and the result was trouble. Problems. People looking out for themselves and not each other. Our hearts became evil and not good. (Mark 7:20-23) People focused on many other things but God.
Our souls live forever. (1 Corin 15:42-44). One day our bodies will be done. Our body will die. If it were not for Jesus Christ dying for our sins, we would go to hell forever. A very terrible place. Hell is described as a place where the agony and pain is forever. People cry out to God but are not heard. The Bible even tells us that from hell, Jesus and angels will be seen but the torment goes on forever (Rev 14:10-11) Since Adam caused the sin to enter the world, someone had to undo what Adam did. Someone had to come along and turn things around. Jesus was called the 2nd Adam or the Last Adam. (1 Corin 15:45). Even though we are sinners, Jesus Christ died to take care of the problem that Adam made. Once we pass to heaven, we will again be in a sinless place. (Rev 21:4)
So bad things happen because there is sin in the world. Until the world is gone, sin will be here and trouble will too. Sickness and death will always be with us until the end but as people there is something we can do about the sin we create and the sin we cause others to make and how we take care of it.
God gives moms and dads, kids and friends the choice to follow him or not. If we do not obey God, trouble will come because of our sin.
We do what we believe. If our heart, which is our thoughts and feelings is not in God's will, we will sin. (Prov 4:23)
What do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and saved you by dying with your sin? Taking your place and taking the punishment meant for you? If you believe this you will show this in your actions. Do you? James, the brother of Jesus said that belief in Jesus is nothing unless we show that faith in how we live. (James 2:20) how are you living? What do you think about? Do you speak kindly to others? Do you show respect to your parents and obey them? Do you try to take thoughts captive? Do you let others have their way or do you push to get yours? Are you always trying to be the first in line, get the fullest glass or the most candy? What do you do in your play time? What do you look forward to when coming to church? Do you think about Jesus as much as you do a silly band collection? When was the last time you asked one of your friends what God is doing in their lives? When is the last time you asked them anything about their lives? Do you even care? Or are you interested only in their toys? When you have hurt the feelings of a friend, are you truly sorry or is your apology without any feeling of sadness for what you did?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Lately, when I have entered this house of worship, I have seen several of you gathered together, your collection of Silly Bands laid out and a complete focus on nothing else. Some of you have been playing with your DS, some of you in the nursery playing various games. Meanwhile, in the front, people are praying for you, for this church, for the service, for the health of Pastor Chris, for Pastor Bob, for others in hurt in this body. Again I must repeat, they are also praying for you! Yet you do not show your faith. In fact, if what James says is true, you are showing your faith, your faith in silly-bands your faith in DS. You are in a church of toys. You don't even care. Today is the day that you need to accept all the things the Lord wants to give you. The peace, the power, the wisdom. You need to grow out of yourself. Adam and Eve had one commandment "don't eat the forbidden fruit" You have two:
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’a 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love is not something we say or feel, it is what we do: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Are you patient, kind. not envious or jealous because someone has something you don't. Do you brag about what you have? Are you proud, acting like you are better than others?. Are you rude? Are you looking out for what is best for you or maybe draw attention to yourself? Are you easily angered? Do you keep a record in your head of the wrong things people have done and bring it back up to them?. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. IS THIS YOU?
I would like to see you do your part to try to bring down some of the sin that you create by focusing on yourselves and your toys. This focus currently causes divisions, anger and strife. Some kids leave here sad because they are envious or coveting. Some leave feeling left out or injured by harsh words. That is what you, the kids of Calvary Chapel of Venice are producing. You can sing songs in front of the church, fake it by looking like good, cute Christian kids but the reality is what you do when nobody is looking. Here are some verses for you to learn. Memorize them, do them.
Ephesians 4:2-3 Treat each other kindly.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 Don't hang with or play with kids that do not know the Lord.
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
Proverbs 19:11 Don't be so hard on your friends and family. Overlook the offense against you.
11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Build each other up!
1 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Ephesians 4:32 Forgive, Forgive, Forgive. Even if they don't want it. Forgive!
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I want us to take some time now and think if we have offended someone here and have not asked to be forgiven. Part of forgiveness is confessing your sin. This is more than an "I am sorry" it is admitting you were wrong with no justifying.
"I was wrong when I spoke harshly to you about that Webkinz you like" is an apology. "I spoke harshly to you and I am sorry but I was tired" is not an apology, that is an excuse. Think about it now. Today when we are finished and you are playing, I hope you take time to talk to each other about what is really going on in your heart. Share with each other, pray with each other. Start acting out your faith in God and not Silly Bands.
In a few minutes we will be able to go and pray in the sanctuary. If you are troubled, if you are angered, if you wish to admit your sin, go to the alter together and pray. Pray with Pastor Bob admitting you need help. If after all I said today, you do not feel that you have a friendship with Jesus, now is the time to start. He will fill you with his Holy Spirit and you will end up one day in heaven in a perfect place with no troubles of any kind. If you wish to do that, to ask Jesus to save you, we can do it now.
Focus on the Lord.